Archived Story

Technology helps find my iPhone

Published 1:48pm Monday, February 6, 2012

This is a story of amazing technology in the backwoods.

Early Sunday morning I straddled my four-wheeler. It cranked the first time – a minor technology miracle since the temperature was near freezing – and reached into my camo jacket pocket for my iPhone.

It wasn’t there.

I was hunting near Camp Hill with my good friend Jim Elsberry, who had come from Colorado to hunt deer on the last weekend of the season.

Fifteen minutes earlier, Elsberry had left in my truck to hunt the north side of the property. I was heading to the south side on my four-wheeler.

I searched all my pockets, went into the house and searched the kitchen, the den, the bedroom. No phone. It had to be there because I received a call as we were coming in from hunting the night before and we went straight to the camp.

I got on my four-wheeler and went to the north side where Elsberry left the truck and searched high and low. Again no phone. I left the four-wheeler there and took the truck back to the house, figuring I’d search all the same places even more thoroughly. A couple of guys at the hunting camp got into the search, and we used their phone to call mine – which was on vibrate as is the norm for hunters – and stood in all rooms of the camp listening for a buzz. Nothing. And since it was almost out of battery power, I was scared that calling it would run the battery down, so we stopped after five or six calls.

I drove back to the place I picked up in the woods the night before, no phone. Search the camp trash can, no phone.

This went on for about three hours. By 9:30 a.m., I was getting desperate.

Then I remembered reading a story in the New York Times about an Apple-savvy policeman had helped a young lady find her stolen phone by using an app called “Find my iPhone.”

I asked everybody at the camp and nobody had an iPhone, but I had my iPad in the truck.

On a hunch, I searched for the “Find My iPhone” app, found it, downloaded it and started it up. I signed in and it said it would work for two devices, my iPad and my iPhone. I clicked on the iPhone icon and it said it could make my phone sound a loud noise. I did it – no sound. But a note on the screen said “iPhone was located 36 seconds ago.” It showed an iPhone icon in an empty screen.

I kept fooling with the app and then clicked on the satellite map function. After a few moments, the icon was surrounded by green trees. I zoomed back and the screen showed my iPhone was deep in the woods between a green field we call the north log yard and a pond – a place I hadn’t been in two days.

Excited, I jumped in my truck with a hunting buddy who went along because he wanted to see if it would work. We drove to what I thought was the spot, and sent another ping. We both strained but didn’t hear anything.

Then we backed up 100 yards and tried it again. “Ping, Ping.” We walked toward the sound and there was my phone 10 feet off of a dirt road, deep in the woods.

I must have put the phone on the side wall of my truck bed Saturday night to charge it and got distracted. It stayed there over night and when Elsberry left the hunting camp and drove my truck down the blacktop and onto the dirt road and into the woods, it hung on for most of the ride, then bounced off where we found it. When I told Elsberry the story, he said as he got out of the truck to go hunting, he noticed a rectangular shaped dark spot in the frost on top of the side wall, but didn’t think much of it at the time.

If I had searched for 10 years, I’d never have found it without “Find My iPhone.” Amazing.

Does anybody know if there’s an app called “Find My Dog?”

Boone is publisher of The Outlook.